Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you're fully aware of the problems plaguing the network right now.

Effectively, this site is now un-moderated. Two moderators have resigned, and the third has stated his intention to cease all moderation activity except for handling the severest of incidents.

I would therefore ask that anyone who has close privileges and who visits the site on either a regular or occasional basis: Please make use of your close votes.

If you have been visiting for awhile, you may have noticed that the front page has stayed reasonably clean during my tenure as a moderator. While I moderated this site, I averaged 300 closed questions per month. It was rare to see any post on the front page with a negative score.

Not everyone agrees completely with my aggressive approach. But I think everyone can agree that the site started to become a more interesting place. Deep questions, the kind we like to see about software design, began to emerge. There was greater participation, and a higher quality of answers. And it happened in no small part because the front page was clean.

That's what we want.

So. Without a diamond taking up the cause, this is going to be a bit more challenging. As you all know, it takes five votes to close a question. I have reason to believe that we might finally get three votes to close some day, but that's not the situation now. Many posts that should be closed in a timely fashion are not, because there aren't enough community members casting close votes.

So I implore you: Use your close votes. Use them aggressively. You don't have to explain them to anyone, or get into discussions about them. Just cast them on the unwanted posts. You're one out of five; you still need consensus from four other people to get a close. Look at the front page right now, find the posts with a negative score, and cast your votes appropriately.

This is a great site. If everyone with close privileges spends a small amount of time policing the front page, you won't need a moderator to do it for you anymore, and you can preserve this site in the manner this great community deserves.

  • 6
    You made a great case for how most Stack Exchange sites should be run.
    – usr
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 9:54
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    "But I think everyone can agree that the site started to become a more interesting place." I don't. I've been around here since the very beginning, and this site was specifically created to be the sort of place where the sort of community-building questions that were out of scope for SO were welcome and on-topic. And it was wildly successful... until the hostile folks on SO noticed and barged in here to redefine everything and lock it down and make it a lot more like SO in character, when literally the entire point of this site existing was to not have that. Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 13:38
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    This place has become far less interesting since then. I implore those who value a strong community to take a stand against the hostility and rigidity that has plagued this site for far too long. Cast more reopen votes than close votes, save close votes for questions that really need them, and flag people stirring up trouble and being hostile to our community, particularly those being hostile to new members by trying to force overly an strict and rigid philosophy upon them! Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 13:41
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    @MasonWheeler: I read your moderator statement. I suspect that our ideas of what constitutes a "community" diverge a bit but... If you have a comprehensive, well thought-out proposal for expanding the scope of Software Engineering to more participants; a proposal that doesn't involve allowing loads of crap questions, turning the site into a social club, or endlessly legislating the site's scope; I'd love to hear it. Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 15:43
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    @RobertHarvey That's the problem right there, though. Preemptively defining the social stuff that binds a community together as "crap questions", and then implying that you wouldn't be interested in hearing any proposal that doesn't agree with this hostile premise, shuts down the (very needed!) conversation before it even begins. That's exactly how this site was ruined in the first place. Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 15:55
  • 5
    @MasonWheeler: The starting point for such conversations would be this post. It summarizes what I believe about the kinds of questions that should be asked here. It compels the asker to think about their problem, instead of throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if any will stick. It avoids the "twenty questions" problem. I don't really have any other "requirements" for questions. Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 16:01
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    @MasonWheeler: And frankly, I don't think any of these guidelines are unreasonable. People need to think about their questions; they need to ask questions that are answerable. Stack Exchange has never been about providing extended tutelage; if we intend to do that, we'll have to rethink the entire site's premise. Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 16:14
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    But wasn't that literally the entire point of Programmers.SE? Rethinking the site's purpose, creating a different type of site that didn't feel like SO? And then, when it became successful at doing exactly what it was intended to do, the people who liked the feel of SO (who this site was never meant to be for anyway) decided that Just Wouldn't Do and marched in to take over and remake the entire place in the image of SO, even going so far as to change the name of the entire site to make it clear the focus was different. That caused very real harm to this site that it's never recovered from. Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 16:20
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    @MasonWheeler: My response to that would be this post Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 17:05
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    @RobertHarvey I do understand your perspective here, but it doesn't seem that you understand that there's a whole other school of thought on this subject that is completely different, while being just as valid and just as necessary. The two sides complement one another. It's not a coincidence that the grumblings about SE being a hostile and unwelcoming place got started soon after the takeover of Programmers by the folks who only respect your POV; doing so (and generally acting on the underlying one-sided principles) threw the community out of balance. Both sides are very necessary. Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 19:07
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    Does this post not actively undermine the efforts of everyone who resigned? "Hey guys, all of the current mods have left in protest. Let's show SE that we can moderate ourselves without them."
    – Mars
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 2:33
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    Regardless, I'm not the only viewpoint. Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 3:01
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    @Mars: apparently the protest was not completely unheard at SE headquarters. The dispute was - currently - one between moderators and SE. For non-mods like me not all the information of what has happened there was disclosed. So I prefer to stay neutral here, and don't think it is a good idea for us non-mods to confirm any actions which could cause (further?) damage to the community. See also Thomas Owens reply below.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 13:50
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    @Mars: I promise you, I'm not that important. Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 1:17
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    Stack Exchange the community may need my support, but I question whether Stack Exchange the company deserves it.
    – Blrfl
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 15:09

4 Answers 4


What I like to support here is the request for more engagement by the community in helping to moderate this site (though I guess those who really take the time and read this meta post, having enough rep to contribute, don't actually need this reminder).

However, I never made a secret of the fact that I am one of those guys who do not "agree completely with your aggressive approach". I appreciate all your efforts to keep the site clean, and there are still lots of questions which actually can only be effectively handled by closing and deleting them. But let me remind everyone who reads this of something which is IMHO almost completely missing in your question:

There are more moderation tools available for everyone here than just the "close", "downvote" and "delete" buttons.

We can also:

  • Comment questions and answers, give hints for improving!

  • Edit other peoples questions and answers to make them a better fit to this site!

  • Upvote questions! If, for example, someone else does not agree on Robert and/or me about a casted downvote or close-vote, an upvote can effectively defer or prevent the final deletion of a question and so give the OP or the community more time to fix it. Furthermore, I personally think if a question deserves an answer, in most cases it deserves also an upvote - and I am really astonished how many question here get more answers than upvotes.

  • Leave a specific, constructive comment when downvoting (especially when no close-vote is cast, which could trigger a precanned closing explanation). Of course, this is not obligatory, and making a comment which is received constructive takes more time than just hitting the downvote button, but IMHO it could help a lot to improve the site.

It would be great if we reach a point where we do not measure "moderation sucess" only by number of closed questions per month, but also by number of salvaged question per month.

Even if the background reasons for the current situation are quite problematic and probably not good for the whole SE network and it's communities, at least we now have an opportunity to see what happens when closing/deletions are cast a little bit more democratic than over the last few weeks, and if that really makes the site "less interesting" (which I actually doubt).

  • 2
    If you have objective criteria for keeping open those 10% of questions that you feel are preemptively closed (without falling back into "twenty questions" mode), I'd love to hear your thoughts on that. Otherwise, it's still a judgment call. Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 19:33
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    @RobertHarvey: those are often judgement calls, but I dislike it when such calls are made by a single person. I posted my preferred strategies for handling such kind of questions already before you became a mod. Now, as this site is mostly self-moderated again, maybe there is a chance to convince more people to follow this line of action? We will see.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 19:52

How can you advocate others to moderate and also resigning in protest?

Sure we could all muck in and moderate stuff, but then we would look at the various controversial issues at SE corporate and think. hmmm, maybe not.

I would support moving the content to some other host. But not supporting some corporation through its marketing blunder.

  • 6
    If you look at the activity on Stack Overflow and this site, you'll see that the user community hasn't blinked at all over this kerfluffle. As important as we believe these issues are, they only affect a tiny portion of the actual user community at present. They won't affect anyone at all unless SE comes out with a new CoC that significantly changes the way moderators work. Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 16:54
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    And at the end of the day, my opinion is just one. While the barrel of monkeys continues swinging from the branches behind the scenes, I see no reason why the user communities can't still do what they do best. Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 16:56
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    Sure, I just find it hypocritical to hold both views at the same time. If a person cares enough about the issues to stop moderating then the goal is surely to withhold free moderation service until the issues are addressed. If someone else steps in and provides the free moderation service then there is no pressure to resolve the issues.
    – Ewan
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 17:01
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    I understand. I just don't find the cognitive dissonance as jarring as you do, that's all. I can have a legitimate concern with the company that is strong enough to resign personally as a moderator, but still care about this community. My reasons for resigning are my own; I don't speak for everyone here in that regard. Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 17:27
  • what about starting up the process for voting in a new moderator
    – Ewan
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 17:50
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    I don't have control over that. You would have to ask corporate. They are the ones who initiate elections. Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 17:50
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    In any case, whether or not to continue supporting the community is each person's own decision to make. The calculus is simple: do the benefits of participating in the community outweigh the corporate distractions? Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 17:55
  • well surely your point is that its not so simple
    – Ewan
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 17:56
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    It is. The vast majority of ordinary users have no skin in the corporate's decision making process, and don't particularly care about corporate issues or site governance (unless one of their questions gets closed). The only reason I have any particular leverage with corporate is that everyone there knows who I am, because I've been here so long. If they decide they want to remain ideological, that will count for squat. But it still doesn't have much to do with the average user. Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 18:10
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    untill thet start moderating, which you are encouraging them to do dispite your own simple calc that its not worth it on balance?
    – Ewan
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 21:30

I posted my comments on the current situation on Meta Stack Exchange. The short form is that I do hope to make a final decision in the coming weeks as to my future as a moderator here on Software Engineering, but will greatly reduce day-to-day moderation until I do reach a decision. I will say this - I will not do anything that jeopardizes the state of this community. If there are issues that must be resolved immediately or the members of the community cannot handle, I will step in to help to ensure that this is a safe, effective place for all.

I do echo what Robert has said in this post. Everyone should use this opportunity to step up and use the moderation tools available to you. Cast close votes and delete votes as appropriate. Use the review queues that are at your disposal. Do continue to flag as normal, as well.

Please - if there are any urgent issues or if anyone has questions, do reach out to me in The Whiteboard, our site's chat room.

Thank you, community of Software Engineering.



Not everyone agrees completely with my aggressive approach.

Indeed. The over-assertive moderation is one of the reasons I've drifted away from the site. I suspect I'm not alone.

But I think everyone can agree that the site started to become a more interesting place.

No. I don't.

Those borderline questions are the interesting ones. The ones that require some thought and actually have a variety of answers to vote upon rather than one obvious one (answered promptly by someone with far more time on their hands). The site became a place to answer kids' homework questions or to see weird niche questions which seem to be the only ones not considered dupes by the zealots.

So I will continue to use my close votes how I think best - clearing out clear dupes, flamebait, clear off-topics, and unsalvageable garbage. And hey, with interesting questions managing to live more than a few minutes, I might spend more time here...

  • Amen. I came back the other day after having drifted away and was disheartened at how many potentially salvable questions are just immediately downvoted without comment and how narrow what is considered a valid question has become.
    – user53141
    Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 1:18
  • You're not alone. SO is largely a read-only resource for me now, and something to be mined as a resource via google searches, not a community to participate in. But that's exactly what the board wants, methinks, a pure reference devoid of any nuances of human expression. Look at how apesh*t they go over "Thanks in advance" for example. The very idea of community is seen as a distraction. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 13:05

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